Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baby goats snuggling inside the hay manger.

"The tender friendships one gives up, on parting, leave their bite on the heart.
But also the curious feeling of a treasure somewhere buried."
 - Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Saturday, March 29, 2014

This is where Daisy sits. If anyone is cooking, she is there. Never mind that she fills the only passage from the kitchen to the pantry. Its her spot, she's got a job to do, and that's how we like it.
I had high hopes when we moved back home from our four years in Texas. I had looked forward to coming home for years. But, after all that time wasted waiting, things didn't go well for me when we arrived. My best friend from my whole life got sick and died, but not before betraying me profoundly. My relationship with my family devolved unexpectedly and thoroughly. Things got challenging in a complicated way, very. About five years in, I started to feel pretty dark inside as the unrelenting certitude of reality simply wasn't lightening for me. As a young woman I was fairly easy going. In the mire, I was facing middle age, time was slipping past, and easy seemed nowhere.
I felt like the pressure was making me sick. I kept trying to wait out the pain thinking things would surely change, but reality is steadfast. As a dear friend pointed out long ago, "gravity never forgets and, for instance, lets a teacup float off the table." We might call this the tyranny of how things are. John Green points out, "Life is not a wish granting factory." Life is hard, consistently so. But that's not the whole story.

Its also true that Daisy is in the galley, here for me and my beautiful family. I could list one million other obvious details, a list of proof written in the tiniest font forming a circle around and down the length of my arm. My life is amazing, blessed beyond counting. I felt so dark yet everywhere I looked I found nothing changeable I wanted to change. The only thing that needed to change was inside me. Which might be the biggest blessing of all, as your insides are the only thing you can change. Because your insides are wholly made of your perception.

If you don't figure it out, the time of your life will evaporate around you and be gone. You will have lived in a fog, seeing nothing, often feeling lost and alone.

I have nothing original to tell. I began to practice about a year ago. Starting small at first, by noticing how lucky I was to get to ride in a car to work in the morning. By noticing I had enough to eat. By noticing my children. By noticing the love and support of my husband. By noticing what turned out to be everything, other than my own inner darkness. Whispering gratitude for what turned out to be everything, my life changed. I changed my mind.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I am so loving the non adversarial relationship we have with our kids. Although they hate this phrase: "You're going to have to use your judgement." It pretty much sums up our parenting philosophy with teenagers. I'm not going to fight with them about sex or curfew or points of style. They have to use their judgment. They've been given solid information. The advice line to mom or dad is open 24/7. But in the end, its up to them to decide for themselves.

Since they never have to worry about hiding choices, lying, or being treated harshly for breaking rules, the kids are completely free to ask for help in all circumstances and about all topics. Or family is collaborative. Almost as if we are 4 adults sharing a house. And aren't we supposed to be raising adults here?

Sadly, I see a lot of exactly this:  Ponyo, part 3. "Stop it, stop it, stop it, Don't Change!"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Drivers Ed was the first class my son took in an institutional school. He was very nervous about the final exam, his first final. I told him not to worry. "Really," I said, "really really REALLY, you needn't worry. You'll nail this." He took it. He felt it went well. He never saw any kind of grade. Its a pass/fail situation. He admitted the exam was easier than he thought it would be. He passed.

I've never met a homeschooled kid who doesn't periodically worry how they stack up against their peers.

Before 2011, there were no driver's ed curriculum requirements. There were complaints that too many certified students were failing a sign and knowledge test the Division of Motor Vehicles also required before issuing their permits. Of 1 million student tests administered by DMV from the 2007-08 to 2012-13 fiscal years, 46 percent didn't get passing grades, according to data released Wednesday.

Now, we all know that class is super easy. Driver's Ed is not a difficult academic challenge. All the more so, we have to wonder what's happening at school if 46% of the kids fail in this situation. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"First Breath of Spring" blossoms covered by the last icy breath of winter.
H left for the beach for three days, last week, with the Mehaleks. They had a great time. The air was in the 70s, but of course the ocean was much colder. I think that's the first time he's ever left us for days. I cried when they drove away. Then we all had a wonderful weekend--me and R hanging in Girl Town. But we missed H and it was so good to have him home. Hard to believe, sitting here looking at a world covered in ice, they were on the beach having fun a week ago. 
The world is covered in ice but the roads were strangely clear this morning at 4:30. So I went off to work. There is a huge old overgrown shrub that shades part of the cow lane down to the dairy parlor. Each of its several thousand branches were sparkling, back-lit by the light over the parlor doors this morning. It was, otherwise, very dark outside. I opened the lane and sent the cows down and almost each one had to pause by the icy shrub and lick a branch. They looked like middle schoolers lollygagging on their way to class. I can't think of an image more evocative of this part of the country than stately old Loblolly Pines with thick rain-soaked black trunks and bright green needles limned with ice. The farm was gorgeous today. Be that as it may, the boss and I got morning chores done as fast as possible and called it quits just to get back inside for hot coffee to warm our hands. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

You can file this under: Things That Matter When They Are Happening In Your Bathtub. Chicken manure is 95% less stinky if you don't feed commercial chick starter or layer ration. Feed your chickens real food, instead. I'm soaking grains (oats, barley, and wheat) for our goats. Which they LOVE. And for chicks. And to have a place to put a chick in a sink. Not to be confused with chicks in the tub. We're raising three Golden Comets, three Black Australorps, and three Buff Orpingtons in the bathtub. I've really missed having chickens and their eggs. Yesterday I milked a quart from Clove. That was her first milking and she'd already fed her baby! Her udder is impressive and, up to now, she's only been fed hay and alfalfa pellets.
Dear Sweethearts,

Never light a firework in your hand. An unimpressive looking bottle rocket can remove your fingers. If you cut off a finger it can probably be sewn back on. If you blow it off with a bottle rocket, it may as well be gone to the moon. Its gone forever. Also, fireworks are especially problematical for eyes.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

This morning I was thumbing through the old blog looking for a specific image. I never found the image but I got lost in the flood of old posts. Exactly as you get lost on memory lane when you pull out the huge tub of pictures from before digital. When you just need the one but have to search through them all and before you get turned around good your original project is derailed, the afternoon is gone, and you're a weepy nostalgic mess. That's what happened to me today, only in digital format. Weird. Anyhow, I realized I'm not blogging nearly as much anymore. And that is a huge mistake. Not blogging means I'm not taking as many pictures, not taking time to record memories, and not generally Noticing in the same way.

Today is a rainy soft Sunday. We have baby goats in the barn, baby chicks in the bathtub, and everyone lounging around. A perfect day for noticing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wow, blogging declines precipitously when one starts a paying job...

Cereza kidded yesterday afternoon with one dear little doeling. I've seen several bizarre obstetrical emergencies involving goats---way more than the national average. I've no idea why. But its made me a bit jumpy with regard to pregnant goats. R and I were suspicious Cereza was in labor all day, but we weren't certain. Its difficult to be certain. Come to think of it, I was in labor with R all day yet uncertain of it until the midwives told me I was 7 cms dilated. So its no wonder we weren't sure about the goat.

I wanted to keep a close eye on Cereza but not disturb her. So I laid down in the hay in the barn, near her. She was laying down too. And I think we both fell asleep. That may have been the sweetest nap I've ever taken---in a warm breezy barn full of fresh hay with a quietly laboring mother. Labor didn't truly heat up until she started actively pushing about dinner time. R and I got to watch the whole birth and I don't think I drew a breath for the duration. I actually found myself thinking an episiotomy might be necessary. Which is absurd, of course. Episiotomies are the second most common obstetrical blunder in all of history. The first being a failure to wash hands. Cereza was as miraculously stretchy as all women are and her baby was born with no help and no trouble. And both are happy today.
We are thinking of calling Clove's baby girl, Clover. It suits her somehow:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Clove had two kids this morning, a doeling and bucking. She's a great mother, had them clean and dry and was eating her placenta when I got to the barn after work. I moved the family into the milking parlor side of the barn for a quiet safe buck free zone. When I checked later today, the little boy was shivering and his feet were cold---much colder than his sister's. So I tucked him inside my coat and wore him around while I was doing afternoon barn chores. Then I fetched a brown sheep's fleece I have, made a fleece nest, and tucked both babies in. Both fell asleep right away. They look snuggy warm and I'm only sorry the batteries on my camera died before I got a picture of them in the fleece. We'll have to make do with pictures from earlier this morning. I'm glad they accepted the nest, we're expecting ice tonight.